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Penguins Wrap: Lots of Ups and Downs; Jarry Sparkles

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Tristan Jarry

The Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up the first half of their season with a 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina Saturday night.

Fittingly enough, that game capped a week that was very much like the Penguins’ season to this point: Some highs, some lows, not much movement in the standings.

Here’s a look at how the most recent week of 2023-24 played out for the Penguins:

Sunday

Evaluating Erik Karlsson’s performance during the first half of his initial season with the Penguins, and wondering whether he’s capable of contributing more. (+)

Holding down a spot in the NHL can be a really challenge for some of the Penguins’ younger players.

If they Penguins have to be a factor in the Eastern Conference playoff race, they likely will have to improve on their lackluster record at PPG Paints Arena.

Monday

Events during the Penguins’ 4-1 victory in Philadelphia are the latest evidence that what once ranked among the NHL’s most bitter rivalries is in the process of being rekindled.

Some personnel moves made by coach Mike Sullivan paid quick dividends in the Penguins’ victory at Wells Fargo Center.

Tuesday

Penguins winger Drew O’Connor is having a breakout season, in part because of boosts he has gotten from some high-profile teammates.

The Penguins have legitimate reasons to be upbeat about what they can accomplish over the balance of the 2023-24 season.

Wednesday

The roots of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ turnaround and renewed commitment to sound team defense can be traced to a humbling 7-0 defeat in Toronto last month. (+)

Third-line center Lars Eller is overshadowed by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are ahead of him on the depth chart, but his teammates and coach recognize how much he contributes.

There is a path by which president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas might be able to reload his roster, not rebuild it, after this season.

Thursday

The Penguins fight back from a terrible first period, only to fall in overtime, 4-3, to Vancouver, adding another lackluster entry to their lackluster record at PPG Paints Arena this season.

The Penguins were resilient enough to earn a point against a talented Canucks team.

A big hit knocks Penguins winger Reilly Smith out of the game against the Canucks.

Former Penguins winger and assistant coach Rick Tocchet has led Vancouver to one of the best records in the NHL during his first full season behind the Canucks’ bench.

Alex Nedeljkovic was chosen to make his fourth start in five games when the Canucks visited PPG Paints Arena. Is there a Penguins’ goaltending controversy developing?

Friday

Tristan Jarry, coming off a strong relief appearance against Vancouver, acknowledges that he is having to compete with Alex Nedeljkovic for playing time.

The Penguins believe they are moving toward correcting some of the issues that led to their largely forgettable first half of the 2023-24 season.

While not offering any details, Mike Sullivan says he expects Reilly Smith to be out “longer-term” with the injury he got against the Canucks.

The line whose members accounted for all of Vancouver’s goals during its victory at PPG Paints Arena just might be one of the finest in the NHL. (+)

Saturday

For the second game in a row, the Penguins sputter through the first period, but terrific goaltending by Tristan Jarry allows them to salvage a point with a 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina.

The Penguins didn’t necessarily deserve a point against the Carolina Hurricanes, but managed to secure one, anyway.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are confident that the trajectory of their season is going in a positive direction. (+)

With the Steelers’ playoff game moved to Monday afternoon, the start of the Penguins’ game against the Seattle Kraken that day is bumped from 6:08 to 1:08.

The Penguins recall forward Colin White from Wilkes-Barre and send defenseman Ryan Shea to the Baby Penguins.